The Crissa Bakery in Barrie has reopened this week. It has been closed since bakery worker, 44-year-old Kim Warner, died of heat stroke, earlier this month. The temperature inside the bakery was more than 49 degrees when Warner died.
The Canadian Auto Workers union started representing workers at the bakery about a month before Warner's death. The union says this was not enough time to negotiate a first collective agreement or a policy on health and safety.Cathy Walker is the union's health and safety director. "These people have to clock in and out of 10-minute breaks and a half-hour for lunch," she said. "It's just not enough in that kind of heat."
Walker says she blames not only the owner of the bakery, Weston Foods, but also lax regulations. Ontario doesn't have a legal maximum temperature in the workplace, or an enforceable set of heat stress regulations for employers to follow.Walker says that has to change. "There aren't any heat stress regulations. There are some guidelines, but as somebody has emphasized on the notice that's up on the board at the Crissa Bakery, they're not law." The bakery now has a water fountain and better ventilation. It has trained its staff about the hazards of heat stress, and the importance of taking breaks. The Ministry of Labour is still investigating Warner's death. It has up to a year to decide whether to lay charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The CAW is also asking for an inquest.